Luton WW1 diary: October 15th, 1914

Stories from The Luton News, October 15th, 1914

A huge training camp has been formed at Halton, near Tring, and some 20,000 men who had been billeted in various districts were placed under canvas. Apparently there was some hitch in the food supply, and considerable discontent was caused, about 80 men deserting. They were recaptured, and two of them were taken before Buckingham magistrates, and charged with being deserters from the Durham Light Infantry. One pleaded guilty and said he was not fit for service. The second pleaded not guilty, saying he was not a deserter - "I am willing to go and fight but I want food, and we can't get it at Halton. Since we have been in camp at Halton we have been treated like dogs." Both men were remanded.

  • A member of the 3rd Beds Regiment also complained about conditions under canvas which he considered "a crime to humanity this time of year". And regarding the food, he said: "It is about fit for a pig to eat. For breakfast we get stale bread and jam, sometimes cheese and bread; for dinner we get all fat and very little meat, if you can call it meat; for tea we get bread and jam."

  • But a member of the 5th Beds Regiment said at his camp "for breakfast we get sometimes ham or beef, bacon, cheese and onions, tins of potted meat and herrings in tomatoes. For dinner we have roast beef, mutton and beans, and sometimes currant duff. For tea we have bread and natural butter, jam, and sometimes a piece of cake - and there is plenty of everything."

  • A correspondent says all the Foreign Service Section of the 5th Beds Regt have been inoculated and some of them have had very bad arms. The clothing of the 5th Beds Territorials, it is said, shows signs of wear and there is hardly a man, with the exception of those who have joined since the war, who has a suit fit to look at. In some cases men are wearing blue-cloth trousers because their khaki is worn out.

  • Mrs Eveline Wormell, of 117 Ashburnham Road, Luton, made a plea on behalf of the survivors of HMS Amphion, sunk by a mine in the North Sea on August 6th. She said it is not generally known that all naval men have to provide their own clothing, and between 70 and 80 of the Amphion's crew, including her husband Engineer Lieut H. Wormell, are now on HMS Faulknor, served out with merely an emergency kit. She appeal for readers of The Luton News to send any knitted socks, stockings, helmets, mittens, mufflers or jerseys in navy blue to her to forward to the ship to enable the men to face the winter weather in the North Sea.

  • Young Lutonian Mr R. Archie Press was to give a conjuring performance at a friend's house. But, hey presto, military police thought that because he decided to make up in advance, including with a false moustache, he must be a spy. He was arrested and taken to the Town Hall, where he was searched and subjected to a severe cross-examination for around half-an-hour. An officer then accompanied him to the friend's house, where he performed several tricks before the stigma of suspicion was removed.

  • On Sunday, no fewer than 1,100 letters, 237 postcards and 13 parcels were posted at the Post Office in the YMCA tent, New Bedford Road.

  • During the three months ended September 30th, 259 patients were admitted to the Bute Hospital and 37 were already in its wards on June 30th, making a total of 296 under treatment during the period. The Hospital Secretary's report said this very large increase in the number is due to the fact that 142 members of the Territorial Force now stationed in the town had been received into the institution. Of the total number of patients, 14 died, three were sent out as unsuitable for treatment, three were removed to other hospitals, one left against medical advice, and 230 were discharged cured, relieved or benefited, leaving 45 in the wards at the end of the quarter.

  • Management Committee member Mr W. Austin said, if the Government were not sufficiently alive to the fact, it should be very much pressed upon them that there was a need in this district for hospital accommodation for the troops. It was time they came to some sort of financial arrangement. Secretary Mr H.O. Williams said the military bill up to the end of last month came to £147 6s. A responsible officer said submitted accounts would be sent for sanction and payment - but no payment had yet been received.

  • The 5th Beds Regiment have two mascots - a pair of goats, and it is no uncommon sight to see one on a lead with the transport when they go for a march.

  • Yesterday the people of Luton were able to get some idea of the strength of the troops stationed in and about the town. The opportunity was provided by a review which at the same time was the means of raising money for the Prince of Wales, and other funds. It was a sign that many had looked forward to seeing, but unfortunately the weather was bad and the review, which was held at Luton Hoo Park, did not take place under the happiest circumstances. Rain pelted down during the proceedings, and one of the most interesting parts had to be cut out, but the spectators were well pleased with what they had seen.

  • Pte C. W. Gilder, a member of the Luton News staff now with the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, at Bedford, asked that an appeal for footballs be printed on behalf of the Foreign Service Battalion. We have clubbed round and obtained one ball, but that is of not much use to about sixty fellows, he wrote.

  • A special committee meeting of Luton Borough Council on Monday decided to discard precedents and unanimously invited Mayor Councillor Primett to take office for a second term.

  • The Rev Percival Thompson, pastor of the Congregational Church at Stamford, Lincs, has accepted the unanimous invitation to become pastor of Bury Park Congregational Church, Luton.

  • Roll up! Grand variety entertainment - advert for a concert in aid of the Belgian Refugee Fund at St Mary's Hall, Church Street, on Monday, October 19th. "England owes a great debt to Brave little Belgium, so roll up with your little bit to help the homeless who have lost their all." There was a large attendance at the concert - the first of a miscellaneous series in aid of the War Relief Fund - given at the Grand on Sunday evening. All the artistes gave their services freely and the management of the Grand placed the hall at disposal free of cost.

  • E.J. Hayward, at the Sugar Loaf Hotel, King Street, Luton, acknowledged receipt of hundreds of pairs of socks from readers of The Luton News that had been forwarded to troops. "The recipients were told they were went by friends from Luton," he wrote.

  • Mr John Facer, son of Mr John Facer, of Hart Hill, Luton, was gazetted on October 10th as a lieutenant in the Army Veterinary Corps.

  • Four members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (Luton Red Cross Nurses) have volunteered for service out of the Company and are expecting to be drafted to Netley Hospital [near Southampton] in the next few days. Mr Percy Young, who has been attached to the men's section (V.A.D.) has been accepted for service among the wounded in England.

  • The Luton News learned that an empty residence at the top end of Brook Street has been taken for the purposes of a temporary hospital for Territorials.

  • A letter writer signing himself "Allons, Luton" said an official had told him that very shortly every employer of labour will be asked to fill up a return giving the names and addresses of all single men in their employ from 18 to 35 year of age, and those men not having responsibilities as regards widowed mothers or young sisters will be be given notice to report themselves to the nearest Recruiting Station or Brigade Headquarters, as soon as the sanction of Parliament is given to this mild form of conscription.

  • Since Wednesday in last week the following have enlisted at the recruiting office in Park Street for service in the Regular Army ot the Special Reserve: W. Allen, F. W. Bunnage, E, Cadwell, H. J. Clarke, W. Conquest, E. Dudley, E.T. Goodwin, A. E. Gray, James Healey, A. Radbourne, G. E. Robinson, C. Tilcock, W. Smith.

  • In most of the places of worship in Luton and the surrounding district last Sunday was observed as Hospital Sunday, appropriate sermons being preached and collections being made for the Luton Bute Hospital. With their usual generosity, the members of the Red Cross Band gave their services for a concert, and this took place in the afternoon at Wardown Park. The result was very satisfactory, some £7 or £8 being raised for the hospital.

  • On Friday afternoon, tramcar No. 10, driven by Motorman Hyland, collided with a motor car outside the Town Hall. The driver of the motor car was Mr W. Worthington, staying at the Midland Hotel. The car was only slightly damaged.

  • Trenches six feet deep and stretching across five miles between Sharpenhoe Point and Sundon were created for a major training exercise involving thousands of troops and heavy artillery. They were all filled in afterwards.

CASUALTY OF WAR

The Luton parents of Pte Horace Weedon (14903), No 1 Company, of the 2nd Grenadier Guards, received news from the War Office at their Wimbourne Road home that their 22-year-old son had been killed in action between September 14th and 16th. The news came just before a letter arrived written by Pte Weedon in which he said he was having a pretty hard time of it. Mr and Mrs Weedon have two other sons serving the country, but there was more tragedy for them to face with the death of their 12-year-old son Frank from diphtheria.